Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo

Community Engagement


Community engagement (CE) at McMaster University is defined as:

  • valuing the expert knowledge and passion that members of the community (both local and global) have about their communities and issues affecting them
  • fostering ongoing collaboration between University and community partners on how to better understand and consider the issues identified as priorities by local and global communities
  • performing research, teaching and service with community members and partners for the public good within the local or global community.

Principled Approach to Community Engagement

The primary goal of McMaster’s community engagement strategy is to establish the following principles as the foundation of community-campus partnerships. Our action-oriented principles were co-developed by community and campus partners.


We can’t have community without relationships—these are the connections that build community. Any successful partnership must be built on trusting and respectful relationships guided by integrity. We realize that relationships take time to develop and thus we commit to providing opportunities to connect people across communities, sectors, and disciplines to foster a genuine and interconnected network of colleagues to work together for an inclusive, sustainable Greater Hamilton Area.


From design, to participation, to the outcomes of a project, we strive to work together for mutual benefit.


We are conscious of the historical and structural inequities that exist in society and strive to provide access and opportunities to all residents and members of our communities.


Acknowledging that different communities work on different timelines and schedules, we strive to consider both the short and long-term implications of our work together.

Openness to Learning

Change takes time. We are committed to continually learn from and evaluate our work together, reflecting on and sharing both our successes and failures to grow as individuals, partnerships, and communities.

Commitment to Act

We aspire to make a positive difference in our community by sharing and acting on our knowledge to contribute to the greater social good.

Information Box Group

Supporting the Development of Community-Campus Partnerships

Our staff are partnership brokers.  With a wide range of expertise, we are a resource for the development of community-campus partnerships in Hamilton.

We can help you move your ideas into action by creating opportunities to build relationships, share knowledge, and to ultimately make a difference through your work.  We work to develop and support multi-stakeholder collaboration because a variety of perspectives, skills, and approaches are required to address the complex challenges facing our communities.

Partnership brokering involves individuals or organizations working in an intermediary role with partners to strengthen the partnering process and ensure that the collaboration between stakeholders achieves its shared goals and intended impact.

Partnership brokers operate in a range of styles (often as ‘facilitators’ or ‘coordinators’).  Some operate as ‘internal’ to a partnership (i.e., working from within one of the partner organizations) and others as ‘external’ to a partnership (i.e., as independent professionals working on behalf of all partners).

Adapted from Partnership Brokers Association, 2010

Observation of, and research into, a wide range of partnerships over many years suggested that where there was one (or more than one) person active in the intermediary role, partnerships tended to have deeper engagement, greater focus, and more impact.  It is increasingly clear that the intermediating role is critical – and so the idea (and the terminology) of partnership ‘brokering’ is used today.

Adapted from Partnership Brokers Association, 2010